Tofino’s Peter Devries, left, exits the water alongside fellow Tofino surfer Michael Darling during the final heat of 2018’s Surf Canada Nationals. Devries will conted for his ninth Canadian title at Wickaninnish Beach on May 10-12. (Westerly File Photo)

Surf Canada Nationals coming to Wick Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“We have a really good thing going here with Surf Canada.”

Canada’s best surfers will take on the waves at Wickaninnish Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on May 10-12 to contend for 2019 Rip Curl National titles across five categories: open shortboard, junior U18, junior U16, longboard, and SUP surf.

Adaptive surfing will also be showcased throughout the Mother’s Day weekend.

Cold water king and eight-time men’s open shortboard champion Peter Devries will challenge the likes of Maui’s Cody Young, who won the Sunset Pro World Surf League qualifying series on Oahu in January, while Tofino’s teenage surf queen Mathea Olin will aim to outshine last year’s women’s open shortboard champion, Californian junior pro Bethany Zelasko.

“I’m pretty relaxed and just want to have a good time. That’s the main mindset,” said defending champion Devries. “You know preparing for all the possible scenarios in terms of conditions and try to have fun with it. Just stick to that loose, easy-going mind frame and try and perform basically.”

Young, who holds a dual American-Canadian passport, said he’s also in a good place mentally.

“I’m gonna try to use the momentum from my success earlier in the year coming into Nationals. I also have an event in Japan right before Nationals which will be a great warm-up. I can get acclimatized to surfing in a wetsuit after months of boardshort weather,” said the 20-year-old Maui resident.

Following Surf Nationals finals day on Sunday, May 12, the best open shortboard division male and female surfers will be invited to compete in the Team Canada Trials event set for the mornings of May 13-14.

According to executive director of Surf Canada, Dom Domic, combining points from Nationals and Team Trials increases the probability of selecting the best surfers to represent Team Canada as they attempt to qualify for a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic roster.

“Cream rises to the top,” said Domic. “Proof is in the performance.”

READ: Canadian Surf Team take on the Americas at Pan Am Games in Peru

Surfing makes its debut at the 2020 Summer Games in Japan, with 20 men and 20 women surfers competing in separate shortboard events. To earn a ticket to Tokyo, the International Surfing Association (ISA) has come up with an equal opportunity process for surfers to qualify regardless of what country they are from. The process is divided into four levels of hierarchy: world surf league final rankings, ISA surfing games, continental games (i.e. Pan Am Games), and host country allocation. A maximum of two surfers per country can qualify.

“It’s genius, but complex,” notes Domic.

He went on to tell the Westerly News that he’s been getting a lot of interest in the Surf Canada Nationals from professional surfers around the world that hold Canadian passports.

“They are 100 per cent coming out of the wood work,” he confirmed.

Once again, Surf Canada has partnered with Parks Canada to host the 2019 Rip Curl Nationals presented by Red Bull. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve visitor experience manager and acting superintendent Dave Tovell said the PRNPR is getting stoked for another surf contest.

“Surfing is the culture out here. It’s the culture of the Pacific Rim area and the greater region. It’s something we all do and take part in. It’s such a big part of our community life, so to have the National Championships and the Olympic Trials held right here is pretty awesome and pretty unique,” said Tovell.

Surf Canada and the PRNPR has also teamed up with Surfrider Pacific Rim to make the Nationals a zero impact event. The 2018 Surf Nationals attracted about 1,000 visitors over three days, according to Parks Canada.

“Our goal is to leave Wick Beach looking better than when we got there,” said Domic.

Tovell reinforced the ‘Leave No Trace’ mantra.

“If you go down to the beach, grab a few pieces of garbage on the way out. It all adds up,” said Tovell.

“We have a really good thing going here with Surf Canada. Hopefully the weather holds up and there’s some good swell and we get to see some epic surfing,” he said.

READ: Divers recover over 1,200 kg of debris at Tofino’s First Street Dock

Domic said that if the waves at Wickaninnish are really “gnarly” during the contest, the surfers can tuck into the corner known as Torpedo Point, located in front of the Kwisitis Visitor Centre parking lot.

Devries notes that Wick is more variable than Cox Bay.

“Moving it to Wick and not having the competition at Cox Bay evens the playing field,” said Devries. “I’ll be heading down there for some practice sessions and to check out the sand bars. Wick can change really quickly. There are just so many things that can happen in the water.”

Tovell adds that dogs are permitted to attend the Surf Canada Nationals, but must be kept on leash at all times.

WATCH: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve reminds visitors dogs must be leashed



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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